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Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Roller Derby

Updated on September 4, 2015

Roller Derby.

Roller derby is one of those things that you will never really understand unless you've played it. Most people seem to find this sport when they are in need, it becomes their escape from life. Everybody who plays has a different story and a different reason why they strap on skates. No matter what the reason is it becomes so much more than just something to occupy your free time or get into shape. Its almost like it is a way to restore your soul. There is something beautiful about roller derby that gives you a confidence you never knew you had. Maybe it is because you learn what your body is truly capable of or maybe its the fans you acquire every time you step onto that track. Its a community that works to push each other to everyone's full potential. Women should stop beating each other down so hard and try lifting each other up. It is so hard to find a a group of strong minded women who are able to work together and trust each other without everything having to be full of drama. It shows there are still women who believe in helping each other instead of stepping on others to get themselves farther. With junior roller derby emerging all over the place it also gives us a chance to teach important values like accepting yourself and working as a team. It's never too early to teach young girls to respect each other and support each other. This is something that gets lost now a days and its a shame because these are common virtues every human being should have. One step a time roller derby is spreading all over the world. I have no doubt it will continue for a very long time.

Roller Derby Can Get Awkward.

1. The Sweet Smell Of Success.

Most people only see the sexy or beautiful part of roller cerby whether its the ripped tights and mean look on a skaters face or the graceful way somebody speeds around the track. There is a lot more than just what crowds see though. Anyone who doesn't know a female athlete may be shocked by this but women smell worse than men sometimes. I would compare a derby locker room after a bout to a room full of bleach with absolutely no ventilation. It is enough to make your eyes burn and make you feel like your either going to vomit or faint. Safety gear for the average derby girl is a helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads, and a pair of quad roller skates. The skates themselves surprisingly aren't that bad when it comes to smell, its the rest of the gear that could shock even a garbage man. Of course there are things that make this worse like not airing your pads out after each use, leaving them in your car when it is in direct sunlight, and the obvious one not washing them often. There are even special odor eliminators like stink out that have been aimed towards athletes and their gym bags. The longer you go without treating them or washing them the worse the smell gets and the harder it will be to get it out as well.

Tips and Solutions.

1. When you are machine washing your pads add an odor eliminator of some kind to the wash. I find that the Gain Firework Beads work the best and last longer than other fresheners. I usually double the regularly recommended amount per load.

2. Air out all of your gear after every use.

3. Wash them every month or every other month with the treatment above.

4. Put dryer sheets inside of your gear bag so that your pads don't get stiff and it will help the smell as well.

5. Use Febreze or Lysol on your pads when they are drying to help disinfect and eliminate the smell.

Roller Derby Gear.

2. Hello Roller Derby, Good Bye Life.

You may think getting out a couple times a week to work out and hang out with your friends is a small commitment compared to the benefits. Although it is very rewarding it is also a HUGE commitment. There is more to it then a couple practices and some games every once in a while. If you don't have the extra time to commit I recommend sticking to rec league softball or your monthly bitch and stitch. I dedicate on average 5-10 hours weekly to roller derby and that not including the busy weeks where we have a bout or a community outreach event or even a fund raising event of some kind. Roller Derby is not only a team sport but a business as well and it is ran strictly on the volunteer basis of skaters and their family or friends. Not only are you not paid for this extra time your putting in but you usually have to pay to play and be part of these extra activities. My team has done community outreach activities like throwing benefit bouts, having booths at farmers market and pride events, volunteering at shelters, hosting can food drives, and many more activities. Everybody should make more time to give back to their community however its understandable if you already have a full load and can't squeeze anything else in. When business isn't too great your team will hold fund raisers and sometimes even when business is good so you can pay for a trip or clinic or some other kind of team activity. In order to raise money you may be asked to sell a variety of items, help with a car wash, go to a restaurant for a money raising event, or even collect sponsorship and donations from local businesses. Everybody puts effort in on top of the physical aspect of the sport. The work load is usually divided up and distributed according to committees and everybody must join at least one committee. I recommend buying a planner and sitting down before you end up biting off more than you can chew. Write down all of your regular scheduled plans along with your occasional plans like parties, weddings, and doctors appointments. Then look at how much free time you actually have on a monthly basis and also prioritize all of your scheduled items look at the things that aren't very important to you and decide whether you can move them around to make sure your schedule can form to being on a roller derby team.

Bonnie D. Stroir

3. It's Not Your Average Skate Through The Park.

All sports are physically demanding in different ways. No matter what sport you enjoy or enjoy to play there are certain risks that come with that sport. These can be broken bones, torn ligaments, and many more medical problems. The longer an athlete plays and the harder they train the worse their long term aches and pains will be. No matter how careful you are injuries happen and it can even happen to the best athletes. Skill level doesn't determine how much of a chance you have to get hurt. Buying high quality gear that has better safety rating is one way to help avoid injuries and so does making sure you are getting all the correct amount of vitamins to keep yourself incredibly healthy. Don't ever ignore an injury either, I understand how hard it can be to have to take a break from the sport you love but its better than ruining your chances of ever playing again. Roller Derby is dangerous because you are traveling at high speed with metal object on each of your feet. Skates are heavy and I'm not talking about the rental skates you get from the local skating rink. High quality skates can get lighter or heavier depending on the type you are using. With derby being a contact sport there is a good chance you will get hit with skates at fast speeds on a regular basis. Bumps and bruises are a regular thing when you are committed to this contact sport. When playing at a skating rink there is also an increased risk for rink rash when the rink floor will grab and eat up your skin when you slide over it. The newer the floor is the worse it will grab your skin. If you work at a place that wouldn;t understand you coming in with a black eye or a body full of bruises then roller derby might be something you should pass on. There are always chances of getting bruised up even if you don't play a sport but if your employer is not understanding of your personal activities it can become a major issue. If you join roller derby inform your boss ahead of time to make sure they don't mind. If you are applying for a job inform the person interviewing you of the risks that come with your personal hobbies. This sport can truly take a toll on your body and push you to places you never thought you could go before. Its amazing if you can handle it but some people just don;t have the drive to play such a physically demanding sport.

Fishnets and Bruises.

4. Whats An Off Season?

Most sports have a system where half the year they play and half the year they don't. This time period can vary due to playoffs and championships. The better your team is the longer your season will be but roller derby is a ten month sport regardless. Practice will usually start up in mid January and the season will come to an end with a holiday party around the end of November. It depends on what level you play at and how many games your team schedules per month. Also some skaters like to skate for more than one team which means that their season may be busier and longer than somebody who only plays for one team. My team on average plays 1-2 bouts per month. One is an away bout where we travel as far as 6-8 hours away and one is a home bout where we play at our town roller rink. This leaves very little time for your body to rest properly so make sure you give yourself quality rest time and even pass on being on some of the rosters. However the way that the season works out is nice because you get the holidays off to spend time with your family and travel during the holiday season. This also goes back to the time commitment issue because it takes up most of the year.

Derby Widows Club.

5. Derby Widow.

There is a name we have for our significant others when we play roller derby. We call them derby widows because when we play derby they never see us anymore. It's almost like they're widowed because derby takes up so much time. If you start dating after you play roller derby make sure that person is on board because if they don't support you there is a good chance that they won't be around very long. If you start derby after you are already married or in a serious relationship then talk it out between the two of you because you are committing to this together. Of course derby shouldn't come before them but it can be something that people become very passionate when they get involved and won't be willing to give it up once they start. It can be almost like a drug, you crave the rush it gives you when you play. If the support isn't there from your partner than there is a good chance you could be missing out on something beautiful. When you are left with what ifs in life, those what if thoughts turn into resentment. So its super important that they support your choice to be a part of such an empowering sport.

Gavin DeGraw - Fire

Would you ever consider playing roller derby?

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    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      I prefer women's beach volleyball but to each his own!

    • Reviewsbypat profile image

      Pat Kane 2 years ago from Belfast, Ireland

      Ohhh, sexy and painful. It's frustrating for athletes when others don't appreciate them. I remember my boxing days as a school boy. I weighed in at 4st 7Ibs (63 Ibs) and can vividly recall being hammered in the corner of the ring. The fights were hosted in a hotel and 4 course dinners were served along with the entertainment. One old fat guy was chewing on his steak and trying to shout at the same time "tear out his liver sonny", we didn't know who he was supporting but I remember thinking that old fart should top that steak off with a knuckle We should appreciate the physical training and mental endurance these ladies put into their efforts. Bravo...Well done indeed.